Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Manuel Sanchez Moreno was born in 1937, in Tecalitlán, Jalisco, México; when he was roughly three years old, the family moved to Tamazula [de Gordiano], Jalisco, México; he was the eldest of his five sisters and three brothers; his parents were campesinos; sometime later, he enlisted in the bracero program, and he labored in the fields of California, picking cotton; he eventually married, and he and his wife had four children; in 1962, he was able to obtain legal status in the United States.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Sanchez briefly talks about his family; when he and his brother went to visit their sister in Mexicali, Baja California, México, a group of men convinced them to enlist in the bracero program, and they helped them at the center in Empalme, Sonora, México; as part of the process, they were stripped and medically examined; they began to doubt their decision to join, because everything was so far beyond what they had imagined; Manuel recalls that many men tore up their contracts when they did not get assigned to the places they wanted; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California, picking cotton; he goes on to detail housing, accommodations, amenities, payments, deductions, treatment, friendships, correspondence and recreational activities; his brother deserted the contract, and he was able to get a new one further up north where the heat was not as bad; Manuel describes an instance in which the heat was so unbearable, that in a group of thirty-five men only seven were left working, because the others had either fainted or simply left; the foreman told them to rest in the shade, and when the boss saw, he was very upset they were not working; the two men had a huge fight, and the foreman took the men home, because it was too hot and many of them were sick with fever and unable to work; Manuel recounts several other anecdotes about his experiences as a bracero, particularly where he and others were treated badly; he eventually married, and he and his wife had four children; in 1962, he was able to obtain legal status in the United States.
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Interview with Manuel Sanchez Moreno by Mario Sifuentes, 2006, "Interview no. 1244," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.